If you are concerned that you or someone you know may commit suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to an emergency room for immediate treatment.
The suicide rate in the United States has steadily increased over the past decade. Startlingly, Americans are now more likely to die from suicide than from car crashes. Despite abundant prevention programs, therapists, and mental health professionals, people experiencing suicidal ideation—feelings that might lead to suicide—are ending their lives at an alarming rate that shows no signs of slowing.
Some seek help but get no relief, while others are unconvinced that anyone will be able to help. Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable, and finding the right therapist can make a huge difference. Here are some things to consider when seeking help for suicidal feelings:
Licensed mental health professionals may treat a wide variety of conditions even if they haven’t received additional, specific training in certain conditions’ treatment. Thus, it’s important to choose a therapist who has ample experience treating depression, and who focuses primarily on depression and suicidal ideation as part of his or her practice. A general-purpose therapist may not have the necessary skills and background to treat depression, an extremely challenging issue. Ask your therapist about his or her experience, and don’t be afraid to go elsewhere if you’re not getting the help you need.
Therapeutic modality is the specific philosophy and associated methods a therapist uses to treat mental health conditions. While most therapists combine elements of a number of modalities, some approaches are much more effective at treating depression than others. Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used to treat depression. This approach helps to slowly modify and reframe thoughts, and is completely safe. If your depression is caused by trauma, eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing—an approach that helps your brain to reprocess trauma—may also be helpful. Directionless, structure-free therapy is unlikely to be effective, and your therapist should be able to give you specific treatment goals and outline a plan. If your therapist can’t do this, it’s time to try someone more proactive.
For some people, exercise can be as effective as medication at treating depression. Your therapist should take a holistic approach and ask about your diet, your schedule, and any major stressors in your life. A good therapist will help you structure your life to minimize stress and maximize the likelihood of recovery. Moreover, good therapists understand that depression sometimes is a natural reaction to external stress such as a death, relationship dissolution, or job loss. If your therapist pathologizes rather than empathizes with the factors contributing to your depression, it’s time to move on.
Most therapists are not doctors and therefore can’t prescribe medication for depression. Nevertheless, it’s important to choose a therapist who shares your approach to medication. If you’re dead-set against it, consult a therapist who will help you work on alternative treatments and won’t push you toward medication. Conversely, if you want to try medication, you may be able to save time and money by working with a therapist who practices in a shared space with a psychiatrist. The therapist can give you a referral, enabling you to meet with your psychiatrist in the same location. When the two work together, you’re much more likely to get positive results—and the right medication for your needs.
- Depression treatment. (n.d.). PsychCentral. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/depression-treatment/all/1/
- Gannon, M. (n.d.). Suicide now kills more Americans than car crashes. LiveScience.com. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/23432-suicide-kills-more-than-car-crashes.html
- Grohol, J. (n.d.). Depression treatment. Help Guide. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/treatment_strategies_depression.htm
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